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Young Poles frozen out by Part 3 red tape

Young Polish architects hoping to practise in the UK following the eastern European country's accession to the EU are facing a serious bureaucratic problem.

Polish architects in the UK hoping to take their Part 3 have been told they face fees of nearly £2,000 for exams they have already passed, because of government constraints in their homeland.

The ARB is unable to certify Polish university qualifications because Poland demands they be accompanied by a certificate of membership from a regional chamber of architects in Poland.

However, the only way to get hold of this certificate is to become a fully qualified architect in Poland, taking the equivalent of the UK Part 3 exam.

The only alternative for Polish students hoping to finish their education in the UK is to pay £1,996 in fees to take Part 1 and Part 2 interviews set by the ARB.

This sets them apart from architects from most other EU countries, who are free to take their UK Part 3 exams as long as they have been educated up to Part 2 level in their home countries.

Lukasz Gruszczynski, a Polish assistant architect in London, doesn't believe the options are fair for his compatriots.

'We have already taken our exams in Poland, and don't think we should have to prove we have taken them at the cost of nearly £2,000,' he said.

'Young assistant architects do not have that kind of money, so it feels like the ARB is saying 'you cannot finish your education in the UK'.

'It is a real Catch 22; for us to get membership from a regional chamber of architects in Poland, we would have to be fully qualified. And the only way to be fully qualified in UK is to pay nearly £2,000.

'We think the ARB could waive the need for a certificate and accept we have the necessary qualifications, like students from most other EU nations.'

However, Jon Levett, head of education at the ARB, is adamant nothing can be done unless the Polish government alters its requirements.

'It is the Polish government who tells us what qualifications to look at, as set out in its EU Directive.

'The matter was referred to the European Commission for an opinion,' he added. 'And it upheld the ARB's position in not issuing certificates, or automatically recognising the academic qualifications, without a membership certificate, as the Polish had made this a requirement.

'We realise this seriously impairs the freedom of movement for young Polish architects. What's unclear is why the Polish Government have asked for this requirement in their EU Directive.

'The Italians have the same issue, but they are well aware of the problem before they come to the UK. I think the Poles thought they had what they needed and have been given a shock,' he added.

by Richard Vaughan

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